by Cori Hilsgen
The St. Joseph Police Department hired a new part-time officer, Eric Brutger, to replace Casey Jansky, who resigned in January because of other commitments.
Brutger, 40, was hired May 12 on an as-needed basis to provide continuous coverage and to fill in for others’ vacations and/or special events. He was a reserve officer for the department last year.
Brutger grew up in St. Cloud and graduated from Tech High School. When he was attending St. Mary’s Elementary School, he was impressed with how his DARE officer handled himself. While in high school, he decided he wanted to be a police officer.
“I wanted something I could take pride in at the end of the day.” Brutger said. “When people make a call and we show up, I want to make people feel safe.”
Brutger graduated in 2011. He earned an associate degree from North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park and learned his skills at the Law Enforcement Education Center at Hennepin Technical College.
He has 13 years of experience with customer-service skills. Brutger is the general manager of the Waite Park Culver’s store and originally was the operating partner when the store opened.
St. Joseph Police Chief Joel Klein said he appreciates that Brutger has life experience and customer-service skills.
“I have seen him deal with people and am comfortable with that (his skills),” Klein said.
Brutger applied as a reserve officer in St. Joseph because his father, Fred Brutger, is a long-time resident of the St. Joseph area.
He said his experience as a reserve officer showed him the St. Joseph Police Department is a great department and no officer in the department has ever treated him badly.
He said he believes the reserve experience is the reason he was considered for his new position.
Klein said when someone is a reserve officer, it gives the department a chance to see how they are within the department.
“We didn’t have an opening until January, to be able to promote Eric, but that year gave us a good look,” Klein said.
Klein didn’t know Brutger that well during his reserve year because they worked opposite hours, but other officers recommended he consider Brutger for the position because they said he’s personable and does a good job.
The department currently has eight full-time, two part-time and four reserve officers and is eligible to have up to eight reserves.
Klein is seeking new reserve officers soon and said if anyone is interested in being a reserve officer, they should stop in and pick up an application.
Not everyone who is on the reserve force wants to be a cop, Klein said. They want to help their community and they have the interest, but they don’t all want to be full-time police officers. Being a reserve officer is a way for people to get a front-seat ride to see what is going on, participate and learn why cops are the way they are.
“They are really a valuable resource for us,” Klein said.
When Klein is considering new officers, a good personality is important. He can train the other skills, but a good personality is important to be able to work with other partners and the city and area.
St. Joseph reserve officers are always partnered with an officer and are not sent out on their own. Reserve officers carry tasers, batons and mace but do not carry guns. Because police officers are licensed, their arrest powers differ from the citizen arrest powers the reserve officers have.
Klein said some of the hardest patrol calls are domestic disputes. Experience has helped him to understand those situations better.
“We want to protect people, make them accountable for what they have done and create a safe community,” Klein said.
Brutger is married to Teresa. They have four children – Wyatt, 10; Brynna, 8; Boden, 2; and Liam, 1.
“I look forward to serving,” Brutger said. “I want to contribute and be a role model and asset to St. Joe.”
photo by Cori Hilsgen
Officer Eric Brutger (left) and Police Chief Joel Klein prepare for a patrol call. Brutger was recently hired as a part-time officer for the St. Joseph Police Department.